Please allow me a moment to geek out all the way back to 1983. Standing in line to see Return of the Jedi on opening night when I was five years old was, well, rather formative. It was the first cultural phenomenon that I was aware of and I knew even at that young age that I was a part of it. I also knew how enthralling the story and characters were . . . and definitely experienced my first crush . . . oh Princess Leia, let me count the ways.
An article that I read in Gothamist about Nathan Stodola, a fellow that sports a Boba Fett mask while playing accordion around New York City, got me thinking about those certain pieces of popular culture that have seemingly shown the capability to transcend time and permeate countless pockets of culture. And not to gloss over what Nathan is doing. He has two masters degrees in Engineering and is in the process of looking for a job. But instead of making a full-time gig out of job hunting, this creative Big Apple resident is bounty hunting, using an accordion and affinity for “nerd anthems” instead of an EE-3 carbine rifle (oh yeah!). While this facet is intriguing and could constitute an entire post in itself, we’re moving on.
Like I was saying before, there are really popular movies, songs, images, etc., and then there are those few that have lodged themselves into our collective brains. Star Wars is easily one of the most enduring themes in American culture. So not everyone is at that convention attending, dawning your favorite character’s get-up or thinking you just may be wielding some “Force” levels of adoration, but a wide majority of people can associate the imagery, stories and characters from the films. There have even been college courses featuring the ethos and modern myths of Star Wars at the heart of their curriculum. It’s just one of those things that so many can relate with each other about. It’s found in countless corners of our culture.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to miss the underlying message. Not just because it’s my job, but also because I’m a bit of a nerd myself and am constantly thinking about wider implications of seemingly trivial things, I find that things like Star Wars help to build and foster community. It’s a point of reference, a shared devotion and even can be something as simple as an ice breaker. There are many cult classics and works of art through various mediums that have dedicated, niche followings, but I’m thinking more in terms of those things that have a presence on everyone’s radar, that have intertwined themselves in the threads of our cultural identity. This may lead you to ridicule-filled giggling, but that’s fine. In the words of the great Han Solo, “Laugh it up fuzzball!”
We Want to Know:
- Do you feel that cultural phenomenons like Star Wars create community? If so, how?
- What other transcendent cultural phenomenons can you think of?
- Have you ever related to someone through a shared love of a cultural phenomenon? Tell us about it!
Go ahead you Jedi, use the comment field and start the discussion!